A graphic identity is one of the most valuable assets of a brand. It symbolizes a whole set of commitments: to a vision, to a value proposition, to an audience. Market circumstances can necessitate the rethinking of any and all of these commitments, but unless and until that happens, upholding them typically means staying true to the symbols that represent them.
Stick with a Good Idea
Too often, a logo change is seen as a cosmetic, tactical choice, equated to changing out business cards. There can be a sense that either “we can change it later if we don’t like it,” or worse, that it generally doesn’t matter much. Neither is accurate.
Aside from the fact that a graphic identity can be very expensive to change (the production costs alone add up quickly), this way of thinking reveals a bigger problem. A graphic identity is a foundational element of establishing the promise of a brand in the minds of its customers. Changing a logo signals a change in the brand promise, and changing it on a whim risks eroding brand equity.
Once an appropriate graphic identity is established for an organization, the organization needs to commit to it. Change is inevitable. Businesses must evolve with their customers, but the most successful businesses evolve strategically.
Successful identity programs rely heavily on consistency. Consistency is a measure of confidence. Confident companies that commit to strong identity programs will see the best return on their investment. However, identity programs can have a shorter lifespan than graphic identities.
While a strategically focused organization might consider changing its graphic identity only once in a generation, programs may need to be refreshed after a three-year business cycle.
Program variations might be necessitated by events—campaigns, trade shows, changing seasons—or ad hoc. Strong identity programs allow for a good balance between ordered consistency and opportunistic variation.
Confident decision makers who are willing to commit to certain brand ideals see application standards not as a limitation but as a reflection of their commitment. Designers see this commitment as another kind of constraint—and as a source of inspiration for creative problem solving.
Decision by indecision is no way to build brand value. When companies commit to a value proposition, audience, and position, they create opportunities for a strong brand identity to grow. Failure to commit is one of the most common ways to weaken a brand.
In many ways, brands are like people. People whose actions are consistent build a strong identity. They become known by the reliability of their actions—their commitments. Brands are built or torn down based on their willingness to commit and their ability to follow through.